BUILDING BRAND LOVE…OR NOT!
Too often, we’re asked by clients to build consumer love for their brand. (That phrase has literally been placed word-for-word in creative briefs!) I’m sorry to say that it can’t be done! It’s like a girlfriend asking you to make your hot male co-worker love her. The most you can do is introduce them and get out of the way. If, in the end, he doesn’t feel a spark, then he’s not going to love her, no matter what you do. The same goes for marketing.
Stage 1- Arranging the Meeting
As an agency, it’s our job to introduce brands to consumers and paint the brand in the best possible light. The brand has to do the heavy lifting. That might sound like we’re not doing much, but getting the introduction isn’t easy. There are a lot of brands out there. For one to get into the consideration set, consumers have to feel that initial connection. They need to think that this could be “the one” for them. As designers and marketers, we’re the equivalent of stylists. We make the brand look as good as it possibly can, designing a package that’s the equivalent of the little black dress that shows off the curves just right. We may give the brand some amusing things to say by writing a funny commercial (kind of like a well-written match.com video). Or, we may be more direct and give a free sample (like arranging a blind date).
Stage 2- Feeding the Spark
Once the meeting has taken place and there’s an initial connection, there’s more work to do. Consumers tend to be promiscuous when it comes to brands. They’ve been let down too often. They doubt whether you’ll be as reliable as you seem to be.
That’s where social media can come in. Small reminders about how much this brand really “gets” them can be effective. But don’t overdo it! Looking desperate is as bad as ignoring them.
Stage 3- Getting out of the Way
Once the love has taken root, our job is mostly done. Sure, you need to remind them of their love from time to time. And you might reward loyalty. But the best thing you can do is let the consumers express their love in their own way. This two-way communication between marketers and their consumers is a relatively new thing, fostered by social media. 10 years ago marketers had to use focus groups to get feedback on their products. Now, they get real-time feedback every day via Facebook and Twitter. The worst thing we can do is start censoring that feedback. If a consumers wants to post a photo of their cart full of your product, that’s FABULOUS. So what if it’s not a perfect picture! So what if they misspelled a word in their post. It’s an honest expression of brand love. And it can be more effective than a Super Bowl commercial in driving behavior for other consumers.
We have a client, LaCroix Sparking Water, that is a perfect case study for this kind of brand love. This is a brand with excellent credentials. It’s calorie-free, sweetener-free and sodium-free. There’s nothing artificial. It tastes great and it’s the perfect alternative to soda or diet soda. It’s perfectly positioned for the modern consumer. However, the brand has a limited marketing budget. A strong social media presence has been very effective in allowing consumers to share their brand love in very visible ways through Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. That kind of public affection has an impact on other consumers. Our social media efforts are further supported by more traditional marketing strategies through in-store point-of-sale and print media.
Here’s an example of how we played match-maker for LaCroix.
Stage 1 (Meeting- via ads in People Magazine, Shape Magazine and Cosmopolitan)
Stage 2 (Feeding the Spark- through a well-timed infographic reminding them why they love the brand)
Stage 3 (Getting Out of the Way - and letting consumers show their love in their own way.)
Images from consumers, via Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
At the end of the day, we’re not making consumers love LaCroix. The amazing taste and nutritionals are doing that. We’re just introducing them, reminding them of their connection and then getting out of the way!